Jia Qinglin Attends the Opening Ceremony of the 18th AU Summit
On January 29, 2012, the opening ceremony of the 18th African Union (AU) Summit kicked off in the AU Conference Center which was newly built with assistance of China in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) Jia Qinglin attended the ceremony at invitation and delivered a speech with the title of Strengthening China-Africa Solidarity and Cooperation for a Better Future.
Jia first of all read the congratulation message of Chinese President Hu Jintao to the Summit and extended sincere greetings and best wishes on behalf of the Chinese government and people to the brotherly people of Africa.
He said that the African people have made explorations on the path of development through unity and achieved remarkable outcome. Africa today enjoys faster economic growth and greater influence in the international affairs, demonstrating fresh vitality and bright prospects to the world. However, both the world and Africa are undergoing profound and complex changes and Africa is faced with more challenges. The international community should view Africa's development from the perspective of a community of common destinies, take a responsible attitude, fully respect the efforts of African countries to solve their problems independently, vigorously support them to develop through unity and their integration process, pay greater attention to Africa's development issue and make more inputs and propel peace, stability and development in Africa.
He noted that the Chinese and African people have forged a strong bond of affinity over the years. In the new century, with the establishment of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), particularly with the launch at the FOCAC Beijing Summit of the China-Africa new strategic partnership featuring political equality and mutual trust, economic win-win cooperation and cultural exchanges, relations between China and Africa have entered a new era of all-round, fast and in-depth development and demonstrated strong vigor and vitality.
In the course of development of China-Africa relations China has respected the sovereignty and development path of African countries and refrained from interfering in their internal affairs; treated African countries on an equal footing and pursued mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperation with them; never attached political conditions to its assistance to Africa and always regarded assistance and support between China and Africa as mutual; strived to seek common development with Africa and promote Africa's development through its own development. Meanwhile, African countries have long offered China firm support on issues concerning China's major and core interests and strong support for China's economic development. The Chinese people will never forget the selfless help of the African people, he stressed.
He noted that the world today is undergoing major development, major changes and major adjustments. To strengthen China-Africa solidarity and cooperation is of great significance for world peace, stability and development. China views and develops relations with Africa from a strategic and long-term perspective. It is willing to work with African countries to carry forward the traditional China-Africa friendship, step up collaboration on international and regional issues, enhance economic and trade pragmatic cooperation, expand the people-to-people exchanges, well develop FOCAC and lift the China-Africa new strategic partnership to a higher level.
He reiterated that China firmly supports a greater role of the AU in both the internal and external affairs of Africa. The Chinese government will provide the AU with RMB600 million of free assistance in the next three years. We expect to make joint efforts with the AU to further improve the China-AU strategic dialogue mechanism and enhance cooperation in the cross-nation and cross-region infrastructure development in Africa and in the fields of peace and security of Africa.
He emphasized that China's development is peaceful, open and cooperative. China will unswervingly pursue the path of peaceful development and implement the win-win strategy of opening-up. Facts have shown and will continue to show that China's development means opportunity for the world and China will always be a staunch force for world peace and stability.
He pointed out lastly that the Chinese and African people are good friends, good partners and good brothers. China-Africa friendship is as solid as the lofty Mount Kilimanjaro and as vibrant as the Yangtze River and the Yellow River. Let us join hands to write a fresh chapter of China-Africa friendship.
Rounds of enthusiastic applauses broke out throughout Jia's speech. AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping and AU rotating president and President of Equatorial Guinea Obiang Nguema Mbasogo addressed the ceremony respectively. They thanked the Chinese government again for its assistance in building the Conference Center and spoke highly of the traditional friendship between Africa and China. They unanimously pointed out that African countries expect to strengthen solidarity and cooperation with China in the course of achieving development through unity and building lasting peace, stability and development in Africa and push forward Africa-China relations.
Addressing the event, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon extended congratulation on the completion of the Conference Center and hailed it as the symbol of China-Africa friendly and cooperative relations indicating the promising prospects of Africa's peaceful rise.
Before the ceremony started, Jia and leaders of African countries planted the tree of friendship in the garden of the Conference Center.
With the theme of "Boosting Intra-African Trade", the 18th AU Summit was held from January 29 to 30, 2012. More than 40 heads of state and government of African countries as well as delegates of international organizations including the UN and of countries outside Africa attended the Summit. Since 1998, the Chinese government has been invited to send special envoy to the event as observer each year. It is the first time that a Chinese national leader attends the Summit this year.